opinion Opinion January 31, 2019

Op-Ed: NSW government delivers one off music grants but questions remain

Op-Ed: NSW government delivers one off music grants but questions remain

With 60 recommendations endorsed by last year’s state parliament music inquiry, last week’s dual announcements by the NSW state government – comprising a $1.5 million dollar night time economy package – raises questions about any plans for long term support for the sector.

As reported in TMN, it includes $1.5 million towards boosting night-time events, in particular, live music, and secondly, introducing innovative trading arrangements to enable businesses to thrive.

A one-off $500,000 grants program will activate events and festivals in seven Sydney precincts, where a new type of pop-up liquor licence is introduced in March to diversify the night-time economy.

An “expert advisory panel” established to advise the government of ways to integrate liquor and planning approvals, to remove duplication and cut red tape, directly responds to recommendations from last year’s inquiry, which is good to see.

Also included is a new one-off $1 million Music Now fund to support the presentation of contemporary acts and increase participation in live music events across the state, and while a good injection of funds into the state music industry, is far behind the Victorian government support for their industry identified in the state inquiry.

Social media on the NSW announcement from industry commentators has drawn attention to a range of issues, including that while the Labor Opposition’s music policy endorsed in-principle all the recommendations from the NSW legislative council’s committee inquiry into the state’s music and arts economy, not so this package.

The sector’s muted response is understandable.

When last year’s inquiry recommendations were released with a unilateral endorsement by the NSW upper house, it was embraced wildly by the sector.

At that time, the heads of APRA AMCOS, Music NSW and the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia told TMN it ticked all the right boxes to be a game changer for the state.

Last week’s announcement by the state government, however, leaves some things unclear:

Is this the contemporary music strategy committed to by the NSW government last year?

While the funding is obviously welcome, what are the specific short-and long-term outcomes targeted by Music Now?

Is there a plan or strategy here? Or just a splash of cash before the March 23 election?

How does this announcement respond to the extensive consultation Create NSW undertook last year with the Arts 2025 Summit, the music advisory group and state-wide regional visits?

Will the live music industry have representation on the “expert panel” to streamline the liquor and planning process?

Is Music Now virtually the same program as the Create NSW Live and Local initiative with the Live Music Office, which the parliamentary inquiry suggested should receive more funding?

What is the NSW government position on the creation of a state music development office?

Finally, why exactly was a photo of LA-based band Vintage Trouble singer Ty Taylor on the official release – on both the Activate Sydney@Night and the Music Now programs – rather than an act from NSW?

In the meantime, Labor is set to announce a further music policy next month in addition to the venues policy launched last week.

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